Sony SR290 Review

Discussion in 'Notebook News and Reviews' started by mark6614, Nov 26, 2008.

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  1. mark6614

    mark6614 Notebook Consultant

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    My Sony SR290 Specifications:

    * Intel P8600 Processor (2.4GHz)
    * Windows Home Premium SP1 64bit
    * 13.3" WXGA (XBRITE-ECO™ technology) 1280 x 800
    * Built-in Motion Eye Webcam
    * Mobile Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
    * 2GB DDR2 800MHz Memory (1GB x 2)
    * 160GB 5400RPM Hitachi Hard Drive
    * Intel Wireless Wi-Fi Link 5100AGN (802.11 a/b/g/n)
    * Integrated Bluetooth Wireless
    * Optiarc DVD±R DL / DVD±RW / DVD-RAM Drive
    * Embedded Fingerprint Sensor
    * U.S Keyboard (scrabble style)
    * Main battery: 6 cell
    * Night Black

    [​IMG]


    Design and Build quality

    Sony Vaio Laptops have always been looked at as having a good style/design to them and the SR is no exception. The night black color I configured is really nice and ads a touch of class to the notebook. The amount of detail put into the laptop and packaging amazes me. From the nifty looking LED power button -that glows green when on and pulsates orange when asleep- to the imprinted chrome VAIO symbol on the lid you definitely won't be dissatisfied with the looks of this laptop. However, the looks are not everything with notebooks, build quality is a definite concern for most people because of the heavy amounts of abuse they will take from transporting. I can easily say i feel safe bringing this laptop anywhere with me. The magnesium chassis offers the base of this laptop almost zero flex and the magnesium razor thin lid allows some flex to prevent cracks and warps in the screen.

    Screen

    [​IMG]

    The Sony SR290's screen is phenomenal. I heard people saying how the screen looked "washed out" and "colorless" so I did not know what to expect upon starting my SR up. I was nothing short of amazed upon first look of the SR. Everything from the Contrast to the viewing angle is just superior to most laptops I have ever set eyes upon. Up above I show the SR290 next to my old Dell Latitude that's been down the road a few times. However, between my poor quality camera and my poor picture taking abilities, I was not able to get a picture that showed just how excellent this screen is or how well the viewing angles are. As far as screen size goes going from a 14.1" 4:3 to a 13.3 did not bother me one bit.

    Keyboard and Touchpad

    Using a regular laptop keyboard all my life, I was a little scared switching to Sony's "scrabble style" keyboard. Just so happens that typing on this style keyboard is easier and quicker. The keys are spaced nicely and offer just the right travel to them. Only thing I would like to have added to this keyboard would be a back light because at night its sometimes hard to see the Fn keys. As far as the touch pad goes, I like it a lot. Buttons are not hard to click and the touch pad is very accurate. I believe it has a nice texture to it (not to smooth not to rough) and is just the right size.

    Speakers and Audio

    Laptop speakers were never anything mind blowing and the SR is no exception. You can easily find other laptops with better speakers than the SR. They offer little to no bass and can not get very loud. I expected this from a small 13.3" laptop built for portability though. While using headphones the audio is really good, so if you plan on listening to any music or watching movies, plan on using headphones.

    Expansion Slots

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    * Memory Stick Duo™ media slot with MagicGate® functionality
    * ExpressCard® 3/4 slot
    * SD™ memory card slot

    Battery Life, Heat and Noise, Performance

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Battery life is around 5 hours with Vaio Maximum life setting and a screen brightness of 6/8.

    The noise of the laptop is almost silent most of the time unless doing heavy tasks, then you can hear the fan moving air slightly. Overall the laptop is quiet. There is a feature on the SR to choose between performance or quiet for those who need it extra quiet.

    With the P8600 CPU and 2gb of ram, this laptop is plenty fast enough for power users looking to decode music or any task that would involve CPU intensive work. Because of the price difference I have decided to upgrade the RAM on my own to 4gb, but have not yet received it.

    Conclusion

    Being only 4.14 lbs the Sony Vaio SR290 is an excellent laptop for college students or business people. Everything about this laptop has impressed me minus the flex in the right palm rest that I had mentioned earlier. Taking not even 2 days to build my CTO laptop Sony's service has impressed me as well. As I run into more features or experiences with this laptop I will update this review.

    Pros:
    * 4.14 lbs Thin and light with a good build quality/design
    * Around 5 hour long battery life
    * Excellent screen with good viewing angles
    * Good keyboard
    * Low noise and heat

    Cons:
    * Some flex in right palm rest
    * No back lit keyboard
     
  2. Phil

    Phil Retired

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    Thanks for the review. This laptop is often underestimated imo, because of the Vaio Z.

    The reason some people say it looks washed out is that there are different panels going around, as far as I know. It seems like you got the better one.

    Just to confirm, yours does not have HDMI right? I've seen Sony make mistakes with specifications before.
     
  3. Goren

    Goren Notebook Virtuoso NBR Reviewer

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    I thought the 200 series had hdmi?
     
  4. Phil

    Phil Retired

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    Only the ones with ATI GPU have HDMI according to Sony.
     
  5. Tony

    Tony Nissan ftw!

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    Nice review, Mark!
    Thank you
     
  6. pardes3

    pardes3 Notebook Evangelist

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    Good review.
     
  7. UltimusXI

    UltimusXI Notebook Guru

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    Thanks for the review, Mark! :)

    As I mentioned in another thread, I already ordered mine as well, the pre-configured Vaio SR29VN (Netherlands) with similar specs, only with 32-bits Vista Business, ATI Mobility 3470 256 MB GPU and 4 gigs of RAM out of the box. Mine does have HDMI as well.

    I received mine today, have been configuring it all evening and am extremely happy about it. Was worried about the screen after some lesser comments and reviews that I read after I ordered (should not have done that ;)), but the screen is really impressive, great viewing angles (imo) and not that reflective at all (my biggest worry). Although admitted, I've only used it in the evening without much light.

    Like mentioned in the review, a backlit keyboard would have made this notebook perfect. (Also Blu-ray, but that was not an option here and would have made it too expensive for me).

    I'm also impressed by the wireless chip by the way. I just have a Wireless G network at home and though my room is two floors higher than the access point and I'm further away from it than my desktop that sometimes loses the signal, it hasn't happened to me on this notebook yet and speed is high! :)

    I haven't tried HDMI yet, will try tomorrow.

    One question: apart from the hassle with drivers / software, etc, is there an easy way to go from 32-bits Vista Business to 64-bits Vista Business? I'm guessing making a recovery disc and install it from there doesn't give me the option for 64-bits? I'd need a 64-bits Vista Business disc first I guess?

    Edit: oh, and my model is in silver color and my, does it look great! With the materials and finish used, it looks very expensive and stylish in this color.
     
  8. mark6614

    mark6614 Notebook Consultant

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    Nope, there is no HDMI. I kinda thought there would be even though it has integrated but I guess not. Does not bother me though because I will never use it.
     
  9. mark6614

    mark6614 Notebook Consultant

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    Yes i did forget to mention that despite the bad reviews of the 5100 wireless, it still is in my opinion a pretty decent card. Full bars a few rooms over.

    As for the 64bit vista, you will have to get a 64bit vista disc to do that. There is no option or anything to change it.
     
  10. Red_Dragon

    Red_Dragon Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    this is great man i dont care what no one says the vaio Z is great but i still personally prefer the ATI 3470 to the 9300gs its gonna be interesting when they update these notebooks to see what performance?GPU they will get.
     
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